August 13, 2014:

#ChezMoi an Update….

I am trying to finalize choices and make commitments for my own house but all I want to do is drink wine and look at fashion inspiration on pinterest. You think I'm joking. Oh and eating. I am rather obsessed with food too. Food is not conducive to fitting into said fashion inspirations so I'll pretend my lemon water is actually a cocktail mkay??

So my house. My small small small little house. I have big big plans for you but you are taking a back seat to fashion stalking. I find that this is often the case. I'm never house-obsessed and wardrobe-obsessed at the same time. My bank account rejoices at this. However, we've got installers coming to confirm quantities regarding a rather major upgrade which we are undertaking - our main floor floor. Yup. We've made the leap and we are headed for a gigantic overhaul of my secret shame. Yes, our flooring in our house is my secret shame.

Flashback (to warm nights... almost left behind sorry Cyndi Lauper ear worm) to 10 years ago. Asa and I had been together for almost a year when a house on the same street he was living became available and we jumped on it. We literally toured it once and said we'll take it. We had a month to transform the former illegal rooming house into a place for us to live. It had about 30 years of smoke built up on the walls. When you washed the kitchen cabinets for the next SEVEN YEARS they would streak with nicotine I shit you not. Four layers of smoke blocking primer didn't do the trick. We had to do more. We also had to cover the lino that had been layered year after year and opt for a floating floor. To be honest, the stars of new love and a new house clearly blinded me because WHAT THE FREAKING FARKING HELL WAS I THINKING when I chose barnboard laminate for a Victorian house. I mean what the hell???? I did and I pretty much regretted it from the get go. Seriously, thinking only with your budget in mind can really cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture. I focused on settling and that is never a good idea when you are talking a large ticket item.

So how are we rectifying things? Well first off, we've partnered with Preverco who is one of the best names in the business when it comes to hardwood floors. We've spec'd them for so many projects I think I probably have lost count at this point. A Quebec based company - their quality and selection is bar none. Okay that makes life a touch difficult when you are a designer because it means having to choose. We checked out their selection first online HERE and then we hit up a local showroom to see what was available sample wise and quickly narrowed our choices down to three options. I say quickly... well that's relative but Asa and I were mostly in agreement... mostly.

Here's what we came up with:

Okay here we go... the finalists. Pretty distinct difference colour wise but I will share with you our inspiration and then you can see which one you think we chose!

This is my inspiration for my living room. The moulding. The light. I love it. It makes me almost want to do only sheers in my living room. Can you freaking imagine? That's how much I love this. Sadly Elle Decor didn't share the credit beyond it being from an old Metropolitan Home back issue.

Club Monaco's NYC store is to die for. I love this palette. It's a huge departure for me I know but I really do love it...

I think the photograph is what I love most about this room and I'm totally making one of Asa's Roman photos happen very similar to the scale of this but less contasty. This is from Miguel García de Valcárcel and was featured in a recent issue of Nuevo Estilo. I love that magazine. Hard to find in TO.

This is from a lighting ad. Again I love the muted palette. So. What say you? Which Preverco floor did I choose???

August 12, 2014:

Of Love and Sadness

I met my best friend (who was with me for the last four days and it was glorious) on the internet. The ol' House and Home Design Forums if you can believe. I also met my husband on Lava Life. He was #56 in a three month period. I was a dating machine - a woman on a mission. Mission Successful! SO I have a great appreciation for the relationships that can be forged on a screen with a keyboard. Many colleagues and design relationships have been born out of the series of tubes that the web is comprised of. In recent years, I've looked to the web to break news to me and was shaken last evening to hear that Robin Williams had passed. I immediately assumed it was a hoax until I saw reliable news orgs tweeting it and then I knew it was true.

Interestingly enough, I was actually in the middle of a tweet storm with a local Radio DJ here in the city. He had made what I felt was offensive comments regarding the homeless. Given his position and noteriety especially with younger people I was appalled. I called him out on twitter and cc'd his rather well known and beloved famous momma. Yup, if you are callous and insensitive I'm gonna tell your mom. What transpired though, all the while I watched the world tweet their shock and sadness was that Adam and I worked through his initial comments and my subsequent ones and found a solution that we both are pleased and excited about. We're going to put our actions where our mouths are and volunteer with homeless youth. I was struck at the timing of this - mental illness is so no talked about until someone famous dies or something horrible happens that becomes news or if it's a special day assigned to talk about it. Adam was discussing whether or not homeless people should be allowed to have pets - and many who chimed in after the fact, assumed that having a home means that the animals will be well taken care of, receive medical treatment and prevention in the form of needles and the like. So not the case. And my position is that we can't assume that just because someone doesn't have a permanent roof over their head doesn't mean they aren't a good pet owner. I think we have to challenge our assumptions and beliefs and let compassion and understanding rule. Especially when mental illness is involved. Not all homeless have a mental illness and not all those who are housed, with what appears to be all of the benefits of success are solid mental ground.

I will talk openly about my mother and mother in law's battles with mental illness. My mom did battle with a disease that could have taken her down but she fought back and continues to do so every day of her life. She teases the rest of us that she is the only person in the family to prove that she is sane. She has a point there. We lost her sister and niece a few years ago to a joint suicide pact. It was a heinous act of desperation. They were estranged from the rest of the family and chose to end their lives jointly in a pretty horrific manner. Our family was left with the hope that they were at peace with their decision and that in choosing this exit, the pain they were both clearly suffering would now be over.

Years ago I managed a gym in Hamilton that was located in an office tower/shopping mall set up. As such, the mall brought in many of the locals including Rick. Rick was on again off again homeless. We struck up a friendship but I could see that this was not the norm - he had a violent streak that lurked just beneath but it was obvious to me that he had some sort of disability, brain injury that probably meant poor impulse control. I am not a doctor but I was training to be a teacher at the time and he had a lot of issues that I saw in my students so I extrapolated. But as I said, we hit it off. He would come in and talk to me all the time and I really enjoyed our visits. I found him interesting and full of stories - if you just asked him about himself. I could see that he bothered others when he was in reception talking to me but instead of asking him to leave, I would often introduce him to members or staff. When I was leaving, he brought me flowers on my last day. I often wonder about him to this day and thinking about him never fails to make me smile.

I know that this isn't pretty or design related but we should talk about this sort of thing. As a designer, odds are you are designing for people who are fighting mental illness of some form. In order to be a good designer, you have to be able to understand and empathize all sorts of living situations. We have clients who handle stress and anxiety differently and we adjust our process to accommodate and take these into account. We have worked with others who are fighting physical illnesses and again, it requires making small adjustments to how we work. It's really opened my eyes to a lot of situations and while it is easy to sometimes get frustrated or label people as high maintenance, it's just a different way of viewing the world. If you are going to offer a service, a luxury service at that, you have to be willing to be open to different ways of doing things to make a process feel smooth and seamless. Your ultimate goal is to provide a better quality of life so judging how that is lived is not part of the process.

Robin Williams | "I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone."

August 11, 2014:

Some Days Design is a Whirlygig

I love the word Whirlygig. It's one of those words that conjures up the exact movement/motion/visualization that it sounds like to me. You can get an immediate idea of what my day looks like when I use it non? Weds was one of those days where you are literally doing a million and one things, multiple conversations going on across social media, iMessage in and out of the office, phone calls, emails and then the to do list. I wish I felt like it was a productive day at the end of it and yes I know there are those people out there who schedule their lives to the nanosecond. I guffaw loudly to those people. I mean do I really want to be 100% effective and calculated and exact all of the time - HELL NO I love to be spontaneous, get inspired on a whim, fall down a rabbit hole, share private jokes with friends in the middle of the day and mock some people's instagram feeds. You know you do it too, so I know I'm not Judger McJudgerson Party of One on that one... let's be real.

I like frenetic, frenzied, crazy at times and other times it can overwhelm. My best decisions are often impulsive ones made in a stream of consciousness vs regimented and focused searching/contemplation. Things I see out of the corner of my eye that spur me into a different direction than I had been considering... this is the golden mean that is Meredith. So yes, I could be more productive if I texted less or surfed less but then I might miss a golden opportunity so I'm okay with where I balance out most days. Especially when I know that I have to buckle down the following day and get a crappola load of stuff organized and done for a shoot come Friday. It's also incredibly hard working when you know you've got your best friend coming in and a weekend of social merriment ahead... but still it gets done.

Here's an example of amazingness that was created in such a whirlygig...

We didn't have the inky fuzzy fabric on our radar until we switched up a plan for a daybed at the end of a bed to a settee and our choice of settee became a touch expensive so we went back to ol' faithful Wesley Hall and BAM found this fabric sample which makes me weak in the knees and works so perfectly with the rest of our room scheme. We added in a bargello in silk and an animal spot for a skirted ottoman and the Design Gods sang on high. This room is going to be DREAMMMMMY perfection. #AlexandraBlvd Amazing.

August 07, 2014:

Errors and Omissions…

PROLOGUE: I actually wrote this post two weeks ago. It seemed pretty heavy to post it while I was on vacation so I left it alone. Yesterday, I was on Instagram and saw yet another "DESIGN GUIDE" profile posting pictures of work done by colleagues. I tagged the post with the name of the designer but it would seem that post was deleted or maybe I'm blind. So I screen shot their post and tagged the name of the designer and added a #creditdesigners hashtag to it. Two knuckle dragging types emerged. One commented on my post that I was a cyber bully. Apparently, asking people to credit the work done by others makes you a bully. The other DARWIN AWARD WINNER claimed that despite the 600 #Hashtags the person tagged on the photo of Colleen McGill's work none of which included her name or handle - that this person perhaps couldn't FIND the name of the person who's work it was. ARE YOU FARKING KIDDING ME? You have time to screen shot a picture, upload it to your ipad or iphone, then tag it a KABILLION times but you don't have the ability, desire or skill set to figure out who's work you are posting? Don't give me the ol' "Inspiration" share excuse either. It's a cop out and you are failing at life people. FAILING AT LIFE.

I went to Catholic school as a kid, despite not being Catholic which meant that I was raised and influenced by Catholic traditions - my world view very much shaped by these with the added perk that I didn't really have to belong, go to church on Sundays or take on any of the bad aspects that having a religion can entail. Basically I cherry pick the good over the bad and lead a mostly agnostic existence. However, one lesson that stuck with me growing up was sinning by Omission. Not stepping up, letting silence reign and failing to accept responsibility directly or indirectly. As a teacher (I actually converted to Catholicism in my early 20's to get my teacher job - HEATHEN - and then taught in the Catholic School board for 7 years), I would always instruct even my grade ones about being guilty by omission. I teach Luke this today. This was further emphasized to me by my mom - an insurance broker - who deals a lot with Errors and Omission insurance. That's an entirely different post.

When social media platforms began to take off first with the facebooks, tumblrs, twitter, and eventually pinterest and instagram, the picture sharing was done with a euphoric naivete. Credit? What credit? Who cares LOOK AT THE PRETTY PICTURES...  We are now inundated with visual imagery and the lack of credit on said pictures has hit a critical point. If I see a picture on Pinterest that is without credit and I know who the work belongs to, I add the credit. When I talk to designers who are just getting into these platforms, I encourage them to pin from the source where possible so that the link is established. More nefarious sorts will find a way around that hell I've seen some supposed (bogus) designer types who blog do a How to Scrub the link and make it your blog that the picture links to - I SHIT YOU NOT. Real Gem that post was.

My latest soapbox movement however is on instagram. There are MANY designers or wannabees on there that post pictures of "Inspiration," gain tens of thousands of followers (or buy them) and then fail to credit the original designer, the magazine, the photographer. Some even use hashtags with their own design tag in there #IMascammerdesign within the photo tags. Some when called on it, claim they are just sharing design inspiration but I call BULL SHIT on this. I challenged one such person this week and had seriously a dozen messages and even more comments on a picture I posted exposing this fraud from people who wondered about this person. The pictures and the designer's tag in them lead them to believe that this may be the work of this designer. Why I call foul on this is because I believe the omission of the actual credit or an acknowledgement that this is not their work is intentional - to create the impression that it is their work and to get hired from it. Instagram is not about curating. It's about sharing your own work/life/blog it's not about borrowing someone else's. Just this morning, another designer instagrammed my work and a friend tagged me in the photo. NOT COOL PEOPLE. Did you do the work? Post the picture. Did you borrow the work for inspiration - CREDIT THE PERSON(S) who it belongs to or... DO NOT FARKING POST IT. If you are so damn lazy that you can't use google image to find out who's work it is - then you have no business posting it unless you include the disclaimer #inspiredby #fabulousworkdonebyothers #notmyworkbutmyinspiration. 

I am willing to bet that after a few years, when these poseurs have some work of their own under their belts and start to see their work being borrowed or not credited, you can bet your bottom dollar they will cry foul. I actually had that happen not that long ago. I had a hard time feeling sorry for this person because s/he is very much guilty of the Sin of Omission. I took some satisfaction in this. So I ask you, implore you to speak up when you see an account that posts an abundance of amazing projects. Who has the time to post all of these fabulously styled shots that are portfolio drool worthy when they are busy actually working?? Ask yourself - where are the credits and then challenge that person to provide them. I think that if more people speak up we can turn the tide on this one. #PleaseProvideCreditWhereCreditIsDue #CreditsPlease or get creative... 

Thank you!

Here's the link to this infographic HERE. The original image can be found HERE. Please note it took me under a minute to credit both where I found it initially and then where the post originated from. 

August 05, 2014:

Style Spotting, Tastemaking and Trendsetting….

I'm not sure if you happened to see this the other day but I had the opportunity to do a little Q & A with Crystal Palecek EIC of Rue Magazine. You can check out the feature HERE.  I routinely struggle with how honest I should be in these sorts of interviews. Should I be less verbose or should I just givvvver? How much Meredith should I really share?? I do try and keep it interesting and varied even when I'm asked a question that I've previously warbled on about somewhere else. I really enjoy the entire interview process because it gives me time to reflect on how I am seeing the world, how I used to see it and the changes/impact that has occured through growth. Reflecting on how far you have come is very good for the soul and it really helps to temper stressful situations when you can look back and think well in the past I would have said or done this and now well it sort of rolls off my back. As much as I may appear to be a hot head who tells it like it is, I'm actually significantly more calm and thoughtful in what I say and how I react to stress. I know - I am even DIPLOMATIC. This is remarkable. I'm very proud of my ability to mostly stay cool under pressure - makes me feel like an adult.

Of course, I do like to be indulged in vindication still - please read THIS. I do believe that I had quite a bit to say about how our culture has become one of the "Expert" a few months ago. This is a great read and I feel a bit vindicated by it.

I am grateful for opportunities to share things that I have experience in. The more I have the more I cringe when I am referred to as an expert ironically enough. I prefer to view it as this: I'm fortunate to be able to pursue a career that enables me to be a lifelong student. I am always studying how people live, how they react to certain life milestones and changes. I get the privilege of sharing in their lives so that I am able to affect them in a positive manner and make their houses into a home - a sanctuary a refuge that enables them to share their lives with others. Now I don't do this as a charity operation and while I'm grateful to be entrusted to this, I charge for it. I make money off of it. I want to make more money off of it in fact. While it is fun and flattering to be asked to Trendspot, Stylespot and Tastemake what I know is that I am an excellent judge of a person and what they want even if they can't articulate it for themselves. I also know that as much as I would love to have my own way all of the time, this will never be the case so I consult, I ask questions, I push limits but I never take for granted the extremely fortunate position I am in doing what I do. This is the secret to becoming a great designer. Every day, I'm one step closer.


Still obsessing over some of my favourite details from our #Madison project

This happened on vacation. Taken with my iphone no less.

Clearly I returned to the office inspired from the picture above this and put this together.

I'm still obsessing over my Heather Dusk colour palette.

I need to do this somewhere though. That blush wool is beyond beyond beyond. It may just have to work with my Heather Dusk scenario #chezmoi. Always growing, trying, challenging, pushing, learning. #nextplease #serveitup #readyforit #bringit #haveIabusedhashtagsenoughyet?